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Melanchthon, Philipp (1497–1560)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-C023-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Philipp Melanchthon was one of Luther’s closest associates, helping to systematize Lutheran theology, and his Loci communes (Commonplaces) (1521) was one of the most influential early works of Protestant theology. He was often a moderating influence in theological debates between Catholics and Protestants. Melanchthon was also involved in controversy over the relationship between human will and God’s grace in the achievement of salvation. He was responsible for the reform of Protestant German education in the sixteenth century, through the large number of textbooks which he composed, and through his revisions of the statutes of universities (notably Wittenberg) and schools. As a scholar and reformer of education, he was a staunch follower of the humanism of Agricola and Erasmus, committed to teaching the best Latin authors and the Greek language. Many of his works are textbooks (often produced in different versions), frequently based on lecture notes, summarizing or commenting on classical authors or scripture. Although more important as a summarizer and popularizer than as a source of new ideas, Melanchthon nevertheless made important contributions to the development of logic, rhetoric, ethics and psychology, as well as to aspects of Reformation theology. In logic he contributed to the growth of interest in method. In ethics he established a place for classical moral teaching alongside but subordinate to the teaching of the Bible. His favourite philosopher was Aristotle, and he tended to pour scorn on rival ancient schools of philosophy. In psychology he favoured a simplified Aristotelianism, close to medieval faculty psychology, with strong emphasis on links with biology. He opposed scepticism wherever he encountered it.

Citing this article:
Mack, Peter. Melanchthon, Philipp (1497–1560), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-C023-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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